Today William Burroughs Would’ve Turned 95: Watching Gus Vant Sant’s “Do Easy”


William Burroughs was born 95 years ago today. King Junk, as Dennis Cooper once called him. Kerouac’s Old Bull Lee, Van Sant’s junkie priest, cyberpunk godfather, punk ancestor, and benevolent spirit to many more. Above is Van Sant’s “Do Easy,” a short film adapted from Burroughs’s essay of the same name. It ends here:

    Let us now apply DE to a simple test: the old Western quick draw gunfight. Only one gun fighter ever really grasped the concept of DE and that was Wyatt Earp. Nobody ever beat him. Wyatt Earp said: It’s not the first shot that counts. It’s the first shot that hits. Point is to draw aim and fire and deliver the slug an inch above the belt buckle

That’s DE. How fast can you do it and get it done?

    It is related that a young boy once incurred the wrath of Two Gun McGee?. McGee? has sworn to kill him and is even now preparing himself in a series of saloons. The boy has never been in a gunfight and Wyatt Earp advises him to leave town while McGee is still two saloons away. The boy refuses to leave.

“All right” Earp tells him “You can hit a circle four inches square at six feet can’t you? all right take your time and hit it.” Wyatt flattens himself against a wall calling out once more “Take your time, kid.”

(How fast can you take your time, kid?)

Van Sant, who cast Burroughs in Drugstore Cowboy and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, also filmed the author reading his “A Thanksgiving Prayer:”

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